Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Border wall activists shouldn’t be seen as separate from the fight for immigration reform

Border wall activists shouldn’t be seen as separate from the fight for immigration reform

LatinaLista — Just as one of the last landowner holdouts in the Rio Grande Valley, Eloisa Tamez, received word this week that her court case had been lost against the federal government and she would have to fork over the ancestral lands that have been the inheritance of every generation in her family since the 1700s, organizers in San Diego were sending notice that a delegation from that city would be traveling to DC next week to lobby against further construction of the border fence.
Tamez and other border wall opponents have put up a tireless fight against the federal government since it was announced that the border wall would cut through family properties, towns, college campuses, etc. Even with Sec. Napolitano now in charge, the hope that things will change is not that great.

Eloisa Tamez
Since Secretary Napolitano took over the reigns of the Department of Homeland Security, immigration rights advocates have been heartened by the change in attitude the new administration has exhibited towards immigration raids, immigrant detention and immigration reform.
However, opponents of the border wall who have fought against the physical barrier, traveled to Washington to present alternative solutions and hosted Obama Administration officials on tours of the impact of the border wall on their communities have not been able to share with their immigration-reform colleagues the same kind of hope for a positive ending.
If immigration reform has a stepchild, the border wall is it and while the nation’s immigrant rights advocates have united behind pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, there has been little, if any, actions outside the border regions of the country of an unified fight against the continued construction of the border wall.
Even though the initial arguments justifying the erection of the border wall was to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants crossing illegally into the country, along the way, the argument has been muddied with national security being the reason as well.
Which leads to the greater question: Have border wall activists been left out of the support network created by immigration reform supporters?

It certainly seems so to the border wall activists who are comprised of environmentalists, border residents, local politicians, conservationists, etc.
In the overall fight for immigration reform and support of immigrants’ rights, the border wall opponents have been left on their own to fight their own fight.
Maybe because Congress waffles back and forth between using the border fence as a national security issue and an immigration enforcement tool.
Maybe it’s the distance from the border to points north that make the issue a nonissue for those trying to stop the separation of families, worksite raids, detentions and racial profiling in their towns.
Whatever the reason, it seems that while immigration reform activists are taking up the worthy cause of the rights of immigrants, they are not seeing the struggles of those for whom the border wall impacts not just their way of life but separates them from their own families across the border.
The border wall ceased being a cause celebre for national security when it was noticed that undocumented immigrants were still coming. As one Reuters News story noted:

A new single layer of steel mesh fence 10-13 feet tall stretches out across the rugged, high plains deserts and grasslands on either side of the small town of Naco, Arizona. The Border Patrol credits it with contributing to a fall in arrests, but some residents say it has done little to stop illegal immigrants.
In two recent visits to the area, Reuters correspondents found an improvised wooden ladder and stretches of garden hose used to scale the barrier, along with dozens of pieces of clothing and rucksacks apparently tossed by illegal border crossers as they breached it.
Local rancher John Ladd said some 300 to 400 illegal immigrants continue to clamber over the new steel barrier flanking the southern reach of his farm for some 10 miles each day, as an effective combination of technologies and manpower remains elusive.
“It’s so easy to climb that I’ve seen two women that were pregnant, I’ve seen several women in their sixties and all kinds of kids between five and ten years old climb over it,” Ladd said, as he leaned on a section of the steel mesh fence that stretches like a rusted veil westward toward the rugged Huachuca Mountains.
“They’re getting some help, but when you put it in perspective, its pretty amazing to have a nine-month pregnant woman climbing over that son of a gun, and thinking that this is going to be the answer to solve our immigration problem.”

It’s pretty clear that the border wall should be made a part of the broader Comprehensive Immigration Reform measure and that the border wall opponents should not have to continue fighting their battle alone.
(Editor’s note: Eloisa Tamez’s attorney has filed an injunction to stop the federal government from building the border wall on her property.)

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  • Horace
    April 24, 2009 at 4:34 am

    God forbid that citizens make some sacrifice to protect their nation from Mexico’s corruption and crime. This fight against a fence is proof that the real goal of border activists and advocates is open borders, national security be damned. The land in question is mostly useless scrub. Eminent domain is the principle defined in the Constitution of the U.S. as giving up property by due process at a fair market value. You people would sacrifice the lives of Americans for gopher and rabbit havens. Pathetic!

  • Bryan Romero
    April 24, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    In reply to what Horace wrote about “Mexico’s Corruption and crime.” Horace by asserting that the U.S. has to protect its border from Mexicans who will bring corruption and crime is absurd. You are assuming that the Mexicans and other ethnic groups that are coming over are all criminals who want to screw the U.S. over and corrupt it. You are blatantly ignoring the ones who are coming over to the U.S. because of the corruption and crime in Mexico. The majority of immigrants are not here to make the U.S. bad but instead to help themselves and their families because they see the U.S. as a place of liberation from their corruption and crime.

  • Horace
    April 25, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    It’s commonly known that MS-13 gangs in the U.S. originated in Latin America and other criminals cross to prey on illegal alien marks who will not deal with the police due to their status, further perpetuating criminality. Eliminate illegal aliens and MS-13 and other criminals have no illicit majority Hispanic communities to hide in. Americans loyal to this country would rather force Mexico to deal with their people’s mass exodus by remedying the economic disaster with its border, by putting up a physical barrier to unlawful entry.
    I’ve never blatantly ignored the millions of illiterate poor foreigners who’ve invaded my homeland and present an economic time bomb if legalized. The welfare of Latin American illegal aliens are the sole responsibility of their home countries to which they hold allegiance, just as the welfare of our citizens is the responsibility of our government. If Mexicans want to better themselves, let them screw up the courage to make changes within their own country, before burdening ours with their presence. Shamefully on the part of Mexico, there are 20 millions of their own here. U.S. citizens will not accommodate the migration of the remaining 80 million. Grow some testicles, Mexicans, and stand up for yourselves in your own country.
    Polls show that seventy percent of U.S. citizens demand that there be no amnesty and that illegal aliens return to their homelands. If this is still a democracy, our government will heed this call to account.
    Latin American countries routinely arrest and deport citizens from their brother Hispanic majority neighbors, without regard for the economic plight of these people, yet few Latino immigrant activists do anything in the way of criticizing them. They reserve their abuse for their own non-Hispanic countrymen. One only has to read the jist of this blog to understand that Latino advocates are demanding the U.S. carry the entire burden of the failures of Hispanic culture in this hemisphere. Contrary to having their way, advocates of illegal aliens only serve to destroy any rapport that Latinos have with their fellow Americans. If Latinos expect to receive political support from their fellow citizens, they’d better forget about demands for amnesty, lest a backlash ensue.

  • Wendy Kenin
    April 26, 2009 at 3:06 am

    thank you for this post. the same morning that attorney peter schey filed the injunction, the dhs built the wall still failing to consult as required by the court decision, before the judge even had a chance to implement the injunction. thank you for pointing out that the wall needs to be included in the immigration reform agenda. please let’s remember to include the native american communities, spanning the entire border region from california through texas, including lipan apache (tamez stronghold), jumano apache, chiricahua apache, yaqui, tohono o’odam, and more. these people have been further marginalized even by the groups you name. militarization and land seizures are nothing less than the continuation of the indian wars in our day. native americans’ humanity, sovereignty, human rights, right to practice their religion with access to sacred sites and right to live peacefully in the land that rightfully and legally belongs to them, takes precedence. their struggle is ours – if it can happen to them, it can happen to us. lipan apache and u.s. veteran eloisa tamez’ court case verified those indigenous claims.
    “…the border wall activists who are comprised of environmentalists, border residents, local politicians, conservationists, etc.
    In the overall fight for immigration reform and support of immigrants’ rights, the border wall opponents have been left on their own to fight their own fight.”

  • S Nicol
    May 5, 2009 at 11:58 am

    One big concern is that, just as in 2006, the border wall will be used to make comprehensive immigration reform palateable to more conservative members of Congress. When the House and Senate passed competing versions of immigration reform, both contained hundreds of miles of border wall. When they could not reconcile the bills the border wall was lifted out and passed as a stand alone bill, the Secure Fence Act. Those of us who live on the border hope desperately that there is not a repeat of that, but I would not be too surprised to see another 300 miles of border wall in the immigration bills that will be proposed this summer. We need comprehensive immigration reform, but we also need to tear down the walls that have been built, not do further damage to border communities and ecosystems.

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